On 12th June the department was delighted to host the final of the inaugural Cheshire Inter-School Performance Poetry contest, held on the Chester campus of the University. Finalists from five local schools competed in this exciting new competition, judged by Dr Francesca Haig (Senior Lecturer, and Programme Leader for the BA Creative Writing). More than fifteen finalists competed, each of them having qualified through a competitive process within their own school.
The standard was very high, with polished and engaging performances from all the finalists. In the first stage of the final, each student performed a poem of their choosing. These poems ranged from the comical (‘The Day that the Telly Broke Down’ by Lindsay McCrae) to the more serious (‘The Highwayman’, by Alfred Noyes). All students performed from memory, and the event showcased an impressive mastery of both voice and action. All the performances were warmly received by an enthusiastic audience of friends, teachers and parents.
For the second stage of the final, the strongest five students from the first stage were given an unseen poem, and fifteen minutes to prepare. The poem was Roger McGough’s 'The Sound Collector', and all five finalists performed the poem with aplomb. It was fascinating to see how the students came up with different interpretations of the same material.
The competition was very close, with the uniformly high standards making it difficult to decide on winners. However, First, Second and Third prizes were awarded (with the first prize including an e-reader, to foster a continued passion for literature). The judge, Francesca Haig, noted: ‘It’s inspiring to see young students displaying such passion for poetry. Not only did the audience enjoy the performances, but the performers too were evidently enjoying the poems, and engaging thoughtfully and enthusiastically with the material.’